Amina Sarwar, Communication Officer

As a health worker affected by polio in Punjab, Ayesha understands the consequences of vaccine refusal. Her unwavering commitment ensures that no child suffers the same fate, as she tirelessly works to eradicate polio through her door-to-door missions.

January 06, 2024 | Lahore, Punjab: Ayesha Raza, a 36-year-old frontline health worker from Lahore, is a true fighter. She herself is a polio survivor and now dedicates herself to wiping out the disease in Pakistan. As a member of the Lady Sanitary Patrol since 2015, Ayesha not only champions the cause of various health initiatives but has enthusiastically dedicated the last three years to the Polio Eradication Program in the Tajpura area of Lahore.

Frontline health worker Ayesha administering polio drops during the polio campaign. (Picture Credits: Shahzad Mehmood)

Ayesha's journey began at the tender age of two in 1990 when she was diagnosed with polio that pushed her into a world of discrimination and societal challenges. Unaware of the importance of regular polio vaccinations, her early years were marked by irregular doses of the polio vaccine, a consequence of parental unawareness prevailing in her community at that time. Also, there was no dedicated polio programme to eradicate polio in the country. Additionally, the absence of a dedicated polio eradication program further compounded the challenges faced in the country

Recalling those times, Ayesha said, " During my childhood the community, including my own parents, didn't realize the significance of the polio vaccination. They thought the virus wouldn't affect their children that resulted into the causal behavior of parents towards the vaccination”.

Ayesha faced adversity with remarkable strength while enduring discrimination from extended family, society, and schoolmates due to her physical limitations. Bedridden at the age of two due to a polio diagnosis, she grappled with fundamental mobility challenges. It was during this period that she endured ridicule for her limited ability to walk. With doctors unable to pinpoint her condition as she struggled to stand or walk, she was left with no recourse but to crawl. Eventually, she was referred to a specialized hospital for individuals with special needs, where the full extent of her condition was revealed.

"Now, I not only comprehend the gravity of the poliovirus but also the critical need for parental awareness and community support in its prevention," Ayesha expressed.

Driven by her past, Ayesha's commitment to the polio eradication efforts arose from a desire to shield children from the pain she continues to experience. As a vital part of the mobilization team, she shares her personal journey, using it as a powerful tool to create awareness and inspire action within her community.

Ayesha, a resilient polio survivor and dedicated health worker from Lahore, passionately committed to her mission. (Picture Credits: Shahzad Mehmood)

Ayesha, who once engaged in stitching clothes at home, found fulfillment and purpose when offered an opportunity to contribute to the polio programme. Despite mobility challenges, she tirelessly goes door-to-door during campaigns being motivated by a dream of a polio-free Pakistan and world.

“It's not easy for me to walk during polio campaigns due to my limited mobility, but I cannot miss the chance to bring hope and resilience into the children of Pakistan. I eagerly await the day when polio is completely eradicated, bringing a brighter future for our nation and the world," she mentioned with unwavering determination.

Ayesha, frontline health worker, diligently knocking on doors during the polio campaign to safeguard children through vaccination. (Picture Credits: Shahzad Mehmood)